As our election nears, we hear the same old things. “It’s all so depressing.” “It’s all so confusing.” “We’d better hand the reins to the same old guys”. “This time, for sure, they’ll fix it!” Not much hope there.
But Canadians aren’t confused. Some 2,000 of us were recently asked about our “serious” or “really serious” issues (http://bit.ly/2Zka0M0). On top were the “rising cost of living” (91 per cent) and the “climate emergency” (82 per cent), followed by “wealth and income equality” (81 per cent) and “automation and the loss of good-paying jobs” (73 per cent).
Drilling down a bit, when asked if “Climate change represents a threat to the future of our children and grandchildren”, 80 per cent agreed. Well over 50 per cent agree on what to do: electrify vehicles, build out renewable energy, retrofit houses and buildings, stop fracking and bitumen mining, etc. Some 74 per cent accept “Phasing out extraction and export of fossil fuels over the next twenty to thirty years”, and over 50 per cent believe that we can meet our international commitments to reduced carbon emissions.
That’s not confusion; that’s consensus on the problem, and majority support for the solutions. We are in agreement. There is hope here.
But of course we’re concerned about our work and our standard of living, about who is going to pay for all this. Well, once we get past the propaganda, there’s also lots of hope here. We can simply fix our big-company and bank-friendly tax system to reduce inequality.
Over the next few years, cheaper renewable energy will replace ever-more-expensive fossil fuels. Cities will be cleaner and quieter. Cars will be cheaper to drive and need less maintenance. Houses will be warmer in winter and cooler in summer. Our cost of living will go down, not up. Our quality of life will go up, not down.
Bill McKibben of www.350.org says “Hope is a verb with its sleeves rolled up.” There are more jobs in restoring the tar sands than in production. There are hundred of thousands of trades-level jobs retrofitting the building stock. There are already one-and-a-half times as many workers in clean technologies than there have ever been in the oil patch. We can use the $10–14 billion planned for pipelines to build out the electrical grid; way more workers are needed there. More jobs than people: that’s going to be the problem.
For entrepreneurs and companies, the opportunities are breathtaking. We’re at the beginning of a massive and rapid energy and economic transformation. Canada has a great highly-skilled workforce, superb universities and colleges, nimble companies able to take advantage of new opportunities. We have a sense of concern for others and for the common good. We are ideally positioned.
Remember when Wayne Gretzky was asked why he was such a fantastic hockey player? He said “Because I go to where the puck is going to be.” We’re preparing for an election, and the old parties are grinding it out in the corners, behind the blue line, elbows and sticks up, fighting for possession. But voters are out in the zone, where the puck is going to be. We’re moving. We’re going to score.